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Thread: disappointed: Shoddy case materials for a $10K+ horn

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay Area, CA, USA

    Angry disappointed: Shoddy case materials for a $10K+ horn

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    Two weeks ago, the handle separated from my son's Besson Prestige 2052 case.
    I was taken aback to realize that it was cheaply affixed via two steel staples that had simply bent and slipped out of the case.
    One of the staples snapped its weld, so I'll drill out all the welds to remove the staples, then tap threads into the brass bosses and re-attach the handle (it's opposite the accessory compartment, so no concerns about exposed screw heads).

    In the meantime, he'd begun picking up the case (to shoulder carry) by the end handle, which, as it turns out, is constructed of weak synthetic leather that ripped apart - looks like a thin plastic wrapped around layers of a thin, paper or cloth fibrous material. I've ordered a spring-steel backed leather replacement buckle handle. I suspect the same unreliable staple fastening system on that end handle, but it's lesser-used, and I can anyway fix it if/when it fails.

    I noticed that one of the rubber case feet is loose. It appears that they're fastened only to the cordura case cover (likely with staples), but not to the underlying wood shell. I'll replace those fasteners with screws into the wood to secure the feet.

    This case quality seems a poor match to a class of horn that can be expected to experience a lot of use over a long time and perhaps some rough handling during airline travel.
    It sure looked high quality and fancy out of the box, but alas, its beauty is apparently only skin deep.

    Color me disillusioned.
    I've a mind to send this picture to Besson entitled: "Really?!"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Have you spoken to the retailer to see if they will make this right for you?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    That's really unfortunate! A case failing because of staples being used instead of appropriate hardware. No excuse for that on a nearly $10K horn.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (recently sold)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    El Cumbanchero (Raphael Hernandez, arr. Naohiro Iwai)
    Greensleeves (arr. Alfred Reed)

  4. #4
    That would be quite upsetting!

    In fairness, I'm sure there are many places where manufacturers have to make a decision: do it robustly and charge more, or make what seems like a reasonable choice and not raise the price. I'm not referring just to brass instruments, of course, because anyone who makes anything has to think about such factors.

    The old, old Bessons seemed to err on the side of robustness. I think the plating, for example, was very thick and of high-quality silver. On the other hand, the old alligator cases were very compact and attractive, but could not take much of a beating.

    Besson veered into using unskilled labor not long before the bankruptcy, and various problems were reported. A friend in H.M Coldstream Guards Band showed me his lacquered euphonium, which was part of a batch the band had gotten within the last year. I have NEVER seem so much pink spotting on a horn, and he said that many of the new horns were like that. So letting the experienced folks go from the factory was clearly not a good balance!

    But, like you, I consider case handles to be an important design element! For one thing, if you look at eBay used instruments you often see cases whose handles have just worn out and are missing. BUT the mounting points are still there and a replacement handle could be installed by the owner. My double-bell case has a replacement handle, and it looks fine and is comfy to carry.

    Actually, if I were you, I WOULD send the photo to Besson, but with a politely-worded message toned as constructive criticism. If end users don't report these things, the company may not be aware.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tokuno View Post
    It sure looked high quality and fancy out of the box, but alas, its beauty is apparently only skin deep.
    This. Besson Prestige euphonium hardcases are not particularly known for their endurance nor good build quality. The zipper is a notorious weakpoint along with the handles (obviously!) and like you, I've also seen the bottom rubber feet just fall off. As you said, this is unacceptable for an included accessory with your very, very expensive musical instrument.

    While most included hard cases are nothing more of a hard shell filled with a styrofoam mold with some fancy cloth on top when it comes to euphoniums, the ABS hard cases of the Sovereign and Yamaha euphoniums are of a more durable design using latches instead of a zipper. The Besson Prestige euphonium case is a simple enlargement of the Prestige cornet, tenor horn and baritone cases. While those cases work mostly fine for those smaller instruments except for the notorious weak zipper, euphoniums are much heavier instruments, resulting in ripped handles.

    I personally known very few folks who use the included case with their euphoniums, not per se by the shoddy build quality, but by the unwieldy size, weight and handling. The case on its own is already heavy, let alone you load it up with a euphonium, mouthpiece and god forbid some music parts and books. Such setup is only viable if you exclusively travel by car and even then it is a solid workout.

    Personally I use a Marcus Bonna lightweight hardcase without the optional attachable bag for paper music and only pack the oils I need, a cloth, a tool for adjusting the trigger and one mouthpiece. This minimalistic setup spares my back a bit more and also puts less strain on the case and its backstraps. I carry all the other stuff I might need like paper music in a separate small backpack.

    I also saw that you mentioned that you mentioned airline travel: DO NOT TRAVEL WITH YOUR EUPHONIUM AS CHECKED BAGAGE! Except if you own a specially designed flightcase, every other option to travel with your euphonium on airplanes is a better one than this. Every wide-body aircraft should fit a euph in a small gigbag in the overhead bins (speaking from personal experience) while narrow-body aircraft can sometimes fit one (like a 737) and if not, buying an extra seat is your only guarantee of a damage-free flight.
    Music educator - Brass Instruments Enthusiast - Euphonium Player
    2019 Besson Sovereign 967T-2 - Alliance DC3

  6. #6
    I often lament the demise of latches on cases. I have had Besson Prestige euphoniums, and only ever used one zip, so that in the inevitable scenario that one would break (usually the loop holding the actual zip-puller) I'd have one left. The fabric latch that covers the zips near the handle is also feeble, and clearly not strong to hold the case shut on its own.

    The worst thing is Besson have had nearly 20 years of these cases failing, and not changed the design at all - and for something costing well in excess of £600 its pretty poor. Still, they have to bankroll the innumerable endorsees somehow I guess.

    My new Adams has a Marcus Bonna case which is fairly impressive - the zip is pretty weak looking though. My Soundwear gig bag has a properly agricultural zip of much greater substance than the Bonna.

    I do not understand why, when such hefty premiums are being charged, a decent solution to a hard case cannot be worked out. The Yamaha cases are fairly robust, but have no storage, the Besson cases are typical keep-cost-to-a-minimum-whilst-charging-a-fortune second rate fare.

    As for cost - Besson Prestige Euphoniums are typically £1000-2000 more expensive than the Adams I ordered, and the instruments have no custom order options so are generic, off the shelf components assembled in a pre-determined order. They can afford to supply better cases - they choose not to.
    Adams E2 0.80 Yellow Brass, Satin Lacquer, Blue Abalone Buttons
    AR Resonance M Top / L Backbore Gold Plated Phosphor Bronze

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    I have used a Bonna case for years now, never had a problem.

    One well made tough case.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original
    2019 Wessex Tornister

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    The case of my Besson prestige is 15 years old and has never given me any kind of problem, robust and reliable. The only problem, if we want to find one, is the weight: case, instrument and accessories stop the scale needle at exactly 12 kg.
    Besson Prestige 2052, 3D+ K&G mouthpiece; JP373 baritone,4B modified K&G mouthpiece; Bach 42GO trombone, T4C K&G mouthpiece; Besson New Standard 3 compensated valves 1974, 3D K&G modified mouthpiece; Wessex French C tuba 3D K&G modified mouthpiece.

  9. #9
    Thatís brilliant. I have previously worked for a Besson main dealer and one of the main recurring issues was the Prestige case - specifically zips and handles. Glad you got a good one!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay Area, CA, USA
    I messaged Besson, and received a polite dismissal:
    "Many thanks for your message, we don't make our cases ourselves but are aware of some similar examples of this happening with our cases similar to this. We are working with our supplier to rectify this and make changes for the future. Thank you for making us aware of this, and We can only apologise"

    The case underneath the cordura cover is unfinished, else I'd discard the cordura and mount latches for ease-of-use and to sidestep the inevitable zipper fail. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I could switch cases, but the Besson case is so very pretty, and it was so easy to repair the feet & two handles, that it had me wondering how much it would actually cost Besson in incremental parts & time to eliminate these glaring weaknesses.

    The rubber feet were stapled into a flimsy backing plate attached to the cordura. It's easy, quick, and inexpensive to swap in replacements screwed into the case:
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    The main handle has a leather-covered plastic core. If the end handle were the same, it wouldn't have torn, but Besson uses a very flimsy (albeit nice-looking) vinyl-covered fiber-core for the end. I buckled on a steel-core/leather handle: Click image for larger version. 

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    Granted, time is money, & threaded fasteners would take a bit more time to install, but they are more reliable than the stock staples. It wasn't worth removing the lining to hide the screw heads, but factory installation would render that moot. The handle already has 4 holes adjacent to the staple welds, so it's quick and easy to tap them:
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    I have an RFQ with the retailer for a set of 968 locking case latches. If they're not unreasonably priced, it would be nice to bypass the zipper.


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